LAWRENCE — Starting next year, 100 Lawrence students will be on track to attend America's best colleges and universities, school officials say.

Abbott Lawrence Academy, named for the industrialist who founded this city, will be located at Lawrence High School. The academy will provide students with a rigorous curriculum.

Admission will be competitive and up to 100 students will be accepted into this program, which is being designed to operate like a top-ranked independent school, according to administrators.

Every Lawrence eighth-grader, including those who attend parochial and charter schools, is eligible to apply for this accelerated program. Eighth-graders who are interested in attending the academy and their families are invited to attend an information session at Lawrence High School, 70-71 North Parish Road, at 5 p.m. Thursday.

School officials will provide more details, including how to complete an application and register for the required Independent School Entrance Examination, which is scheduled for Saturday. For more information, call 978-975-2750, extension 483; or email questions oo